It has been 20 years since Marv Levy retired as head coach of the Buffalo Bills and now, the franchise has hired their tenth coach (including interim coaches) since then. Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, will be that man as the team announced on Wednesday.
Considering that the team has failed to make the playoffs every year since 1999, McDermott would appear to have a tough job in front of him but there are some pieces to work with here.
Of course, we also thought that after Doug Marrone's departure and the hiring of Rex Ryan two years ago. Interestingly, Ryan's teams showed progress and promise offensively both years but took a big step backward from the strong unit that power the 9-7 season in Marrone's final season. That's perhaps a key reason why they decided to hire another defensive coach to follow Ryan. McDermott is known for being an aggressive defensive playcaller, one not afraid to dial up his fair share of blitzes like his mentor, the late Jim Johnson, but he also should return the Bills to the 4-3 defensive scheme that better suits their personnel.
But perhaps more importantly about McDermott will be his demeanor. Whereas Ryan was famous for his big personality, McDermott is much more reserved and likely will keep a lower profile, which is not a bad thing. He also has the reputation of being a no-nonsense coach which this team could certainly use after the freewheeling Ryan tenure and he is also quite well known for having a tremendous work ethic, which ideally would trickle down to this team.
However, he does have some issues that he will have to deal with. First, the front office is a total mess right now as they showed with the embarrassing press conference with GM Doug Whaley in which he appeared to be out of the loop on just about everything, from the Ryan firing to the Tyrod Taylor benching to the upcoming coaching search. Considering we're not really sure who is running the show in Buffalo, that could pose some issues for McDermott down the line.
Second, this team has a big question at the quarterback position. Tyrod Taylor showed some promise last year but then this season, he was much more inconsistent and it seems as if the team is ready to move forward and decline his contract option this offseason but we're not sure what the Bills have beyond him. E.J. Manuel showed in his lone start of the season that he is terrible and while there are people in the organization that are fans of Cardale Jones, and he does have some talent, he is still untested and raw.
All in all, I like this hire. I think his personality will make for a strong change of place from Ryan and I think his defensive scheme will better fit the personnel. Whether he can get this team back to the playoffs is obviously the million dollar question.